Consumer body issues notice to ECI

Coimbatore Consumer Cause has issued notice to the Election Commission of India asking why it had failed in its duty by not scrutinising political parties’ manifestoes in the run up to Assembly elections in April-May this year.

In his notice, consumer body secretary K. Kathirmathiyon said in response to an RTI query that the consumer body had filed, the Commission had replied that it had not received any election manifesto from political parties in the run up to Assembly elections in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry this year.

This showed that the ECI “had failed in its duty” to enforce the Model Code of Conduct on the issue, as mandated by the Supreme Court.

In the run up the 2016 Assembly election in the State, the ECI that received manifestoes for scrutiny in May 2016 had issued orders only in August 2016, much after the election was over.

As there was no use in scrutinising manifestoes after the declaration of results, the consumer body had moved the Madras High Court with a public interest litigation.

The Court had then said that while it was too late for the petition to be considered, directed the ECI to consider the Coimbatore Consumer Cause’s petition and communicate an order within two months of the result of the 2021 Assembly election.

But the ECI’s reply that it had not scrutinised manifestoes in the run up to the 2021 Assembly election was disappointing and totally unsatisfactory, more so when considering the Supreme Court observation that freebies promised by political parties in their election manifestoes shook the roots of free and fair polls and directed the ECI to frame guidelines for regulating content in manifestoes.

It was based on this Supreme Court observation, the ECI had framed the ‘Guidelines on Election manifestoes’ and made it a part of the Model Code of Conduct.

Therein, the ECI had said that whenever political parties released manifestoes for elections it conducted, they should share hard and soft copies within three days along with the declaration that the programme and policies made there in consonance with the Model Code of Conduct.

The ECI had, however, failed to do this in the run up to 2021 Assembly elections, the consumer body said and termed that the Commission had let down the voters.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 8:50:02 PM |

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